Sundram: Jermaine Pennant trial shows Tampines' S.League ambitions
Tampines Rovers head coach V. Sundramoorthy believes that ex-Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant's upcoming S.League trial underlines the club's title ambitions this year.
The former Premier League star is due to arrive in Singapore on Thursday morning, with the aim of signing a contract ahead of the 2016 season which kicks off on Feb. 12.
"I think my chairman [Krishna Ramachandra] has big ambitions for the club and the trial of Jermaine Pennant shows our ambition towards being a successful club in Singapore football." Sundram told ESPN FC.
Pennant told Red Card Sports Radio that he was looking forward to starting a new chapter in his career at "one of the biggest clubs in Southeast Asia", vowing to make "an impact" in the S.League.
Along with nine LionsXII players, including Singapore international goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, Tampines have assembled one of their strongest squads in recent years. The five-time S.League champions are also preparing for a AFC Champions League playoff away to Indian champions Mohun Bagan on Jan. 27.
Despite his star-studded lineup, Sundram has warned his players that they must put in the hard work in training to ensure they can get the job done in matches.
"Like what we always say in football, looking at the Tampines selection on paper, we are a very good side," he said.
"But in football, everything is played on the pitch and it means nothing unless we get the results. We will have a lot of back-to-back games and a lot of travelling. So to have a big and strong squad gives us the advantage to be able to have fresh legs for all our matches."
With the injection of the LionsXII players, the 2016 S.League is one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons in the competition's 21-year history.
50-year-old Sundram, a former Kelantan winger, singled out sleeping giants Home United as the dark horses for silverware this year.
"The two uniformed groups -- Home and Warriors FC -- will be there in the title race," he said. "Especially Home, because of the players they have managed to secure. They have Ken [Ilso], [Sirina] Camara and Faris Ramli in attack, and they also have Song [Ui Yong] in midfield.
"Albirex have always been a good team and with the current squad they have, and a few new additions, they will definitely do well again. Furthermore, we have to look at DPMM and even Geylang who have strengthened their team well."
If the Stags can convince Pennant to join the club along with two other quality foreigners, this could be the year for them to win a sixth S.League title, returning to the pinnacle of Singapore football.